Here you can find my notes about the course “Blogging for business” by ahrefs.com

I highly recommend following the step by step course to convert your blogging from a waste of time to a source of potential customers and sales.

About content marketing

What’s the goal of blogging?

Traffic? That’s a vanity metric.

Customers? That’s it!

Focus on convincing your potential customer that your product or service is worth it.

Conversions, sales and customers are the thing you need to grow.

Customer acquisition channels

Your product can be discovered in variours ways

  • Advertisement
  • Word of mouth
  • Search engines

You don’t necessarily need a blog to do this!

Although a blog will improve all the above discovery methods.

You could advertise the content that promotes your product: People are more likely to make a purchase if they get extremely valuable insights about your product out of your content (Advertisiment++)

If people like an article related to your product, they could share it with their friends or their network (Word of mouth++)

Also, content that matches a search query by your potential customer could help in discovery and thus drive sales. (Search engines++)

Most blogs are a failure

Lots of content you may product is actually for nothing (if you’re doing it wrong).

It’s for “nothing”, because it doesn’t make new sales, word of mouth is pretty much absent (shares, links, social media etc.).

Some advices experts might give to you (that don’t necessarily work on their own):

  • publish more often
  • list posts
  • posting in niche communities and social media

This might help for traffic and vanity metrics, but not necessarily sales and customers.

There is a concept for it: the “Spike of hope”, and then follows the “Flatline of hope” (credit Rand Fishkin)

Tactics don’t mean strategy. What you need is all the above, and consistency and persistence.

Focus on the metrics like customers and sales, and not only on mere traffic numbers.

You need to create content that brings consistent targeted traffic that doesn’t fade away.

Convert this traffic into leads and sales.


The “Spike of hope”

Once you write some content, you will share it with your subscribers and followers, share it with niche communities etc.

This definitely works for starting out. And overtime it won’t convert new customers to your product.

This is where the spike of hope comes in.

You will get a spike in your analytics software, that slowly fades away.

Word of mouth, and buzz in communities will help to get new potential customers, and over time you can also be ranked on search engines for relevant keywords.

Strategies of growing a blog

Two strategies: Viral traffic & SEO traffic.

Viral traffic

Viral traffic can happen via content that really resonates in people that find it in niche communities, and are inclined to share it with their followers.

If your content is really good, influencers might share it with their big network and drive a good amount of traffic (potentially new customers) to your product.

You’ll need to do this regularly, to avoid that traffic fades away over time.

Your content will go viral if it is exposed to an extremely large audience.

It won’t happen if you share it with your followers (and then you think they might share it with their followers as well).

SEO traffic

Create “good” and useful content that helps people (with a good keyword strategy). This will rank you higher in search engines (with good SEO strategies).

Getting backlinks will rank you higher in search engines too, but this can be quite difficult to achieve.

Should I publish more often?

Simply upping the number of articles you produce per month/week won’t help.

You’ll need to focus on specific keywords and make them rank in search engines.

There are examples of business that grew just because of 1 article that ranks extremely good on search engines. (But it’s extremely difficult and unlikely)

Another point on SEO and Viral traffic

Viral traffic is a bet.
You can’t possibly determine how much traffic it will produce.

It could either take off and resonate with the audience you shared it with.

Or it could be a total flop.

On the other hand, SEO traffic is predictable.

You can make data-driven decision and determine how your content can be optimized for search engines and rank higher!

Converting visitors into subscribers

To grow your audience you need to grow your subscriber list!

Your audience is your biggest asset

Different techniques to do this.

You could create an (preferably unobtrusive) slide-in, welcome message, lead magnets.

But also more psychological tactics like having social proof, the public image of yourself.

Also stories about you help to build a connection to your audience


Determine your keywords wisely

Search engines are the best source of new traffic, thus audience, thus potential customers.

Use keyword research tools like ahrefs.com

Target your visitors, write about things that people are actually searching for!

Do your keyword research and determine your keywords wisely.

You must rank on the front page of search engines!

Find keywords that have decent traffic, and write about that related topic.

Don’t focus on a single keyword, but on the total search volume that results in searches for related searches.

Find the most searched keyword

If you find the most popular keyword among searches, you will potentially rank higher also for related keywords.

Especially for longer, related search queries.

Try to focus on the overall search volume, and find the most popular keyword for that searches.

Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks

Backlinks can be seen as “likes” for your sites. Backlinks are links to your content on other sites.

This tells search engines that the content can be very valuable and thus will try to rank you higher in search results.

Try to beat comptetitor site with few backlinks, and thus outrank them on search results.

For starting out, you need to create these backlinks manually.


Finding content ideas

Study your niche.

Find content ideas in communities (reddit, facebook, etc.) and look for things that people are most interested about.

Test the keywords you come up with and analyze the traffic the best performing sites are getting monthly.

Tools for analyzing search queries


Target the right searcher intent

The searcher intent is what a user does after visiting your site through a search.

Are they leaving right away?

Do they continue browing the site since it’s relevant and even become customers?

Do they get back to the search engine and refine their search or look at other search results?

This is why it’s important to write quality content that is relevant and actually converts your visitors.

Look for the most relevant search query and optimize for that (even if the search volume if quite small)

Put yourself in the shoes of the searcher and think how they can be satisfied with your content.

Keyword optimization

Match your searcher intent with your content. That’s already 80% of the optimization.

Refine it by mentioning the most relevant keywords in your URL, title, headline and content.

What are people searching for? Mention valuable knowledge about these topics in your article.


Create great content

Great content promotes itself (ideally).

This also potentially results in natural backlinks if your content really resonates with your target audience.

But it’s not to say that you can just hit “Publish” and hope for it to get picked up

Revisit old content regularly

A mistake that is often made is to let great content rot.

If you think that hitting your all-time-high traffic for a piece of content is enough, you might be totally wrong.

You’ll need to regularly update it with new valuable lessons and check how to outperform competitors on relevant keyword searches.

Don’t be happy with the “Spike of hope”, but leverage it as much as possible. This because you know that this content will become fade away over time.


Promoting your content

You probably have a content marketing checklist that includes posting your content to relevant communities. Most likely free posting on community forums etc.

This takes time, and your time is worth $.

Multiple the time spent with your hourly rate, and add 10% of that amount in paid advertising.

If your content is great, you’ll most likely get “new” traffic and new potential customers.

Reach out to people with more authority than you and let you content convince them to create backlinks to your content. This only works if the content quality is high.

Don’t give up on content promotion, it takes a lot of time and effort. And it doesn’t end with doing it once. You’ll need to do it over and over again.

Start building your audience yesterday! Use a mailing-list, a social account with a decent number of followings, etc.

Guest blog on other platforms in your niche.

Reach out to people mentioned in your article, by letting them know you found their insights very valuable.